British Columbia

'Everybody loved him': Homicide victim identified as overdose prevention volunteer

Staff at the Overdose Prevention Society in Vancouver say that the man who was killed Monday night behind St. Paul’s Hospital was their colleague Thomus Donaghy.

Thomus Donaghy, one of Overdose Prevention Site's first volunteers, was killed Monday near St. Paul's Hospital

Colleagues say Thomus Donaghy saved hundreds of lives while working as a volunteer with the Overdose Prevention Society. (Sarah Blyth)

Staff at the Overdose Prevention Society in Vancouver say the man killed Monday night behind St. Paul's Hospital was their colleague, Thomus Donaghy.

Donaghy was one of the first volunteers at OPS when it opened its doors in 2016 in response to the opioid crisis, says Sarah Blyth, executive director at OPS.

Donaghy would walk Vancouver's streets and alleys, often alone at night, just to make sure someone didn't overdose alone, she said.

In all, she estimates he saved hundreds of lives.

"He was one of the kindest volunteers we've ever had," she said. "It's so shocking and tragic. He would go above and beyond for everyone."

Vancouver police confirmed Donaghy as the victim on Friday morning.

On Monday, officers responded to a report around 8:30 p.m. PT that a stabbed man had been found in a lot near Thurlow and Comox streets.

Emergency crews took the 41-year-old to hospital, where he later died from his injuries, police said. 

Police said Donaghy was working at the Overdose Prevention site connected to St. Paul's Hospital and had stepped outside. He became involved in a fistfight with an unidentified man before the man stabbed him.

'Unbearable'

Blyth says Donaghy was part of her team, which won an award from the City of Vancouver for its overdose prevention efforts.

"Everybody loved him and the thought of something tragic happening to him in that way is unbearable for everyone in the community," said Blyth.

"He had a lot of compassion. More than most."

Donaghy was part of the Overdose Prevention Society team that won an award from the City of Vancouver for their lifesaving efforts. (Sarah Blyth)

Cindy Vell, who worked alongside Donaghy as a volunteer at OPS, says he was a very caring person and echoed Blyth's comment that he would do anything for anybody.

"He's gone but not forgotten," said Vell.

Donaghy's death marks Vancouver's ninth homicide of 2020.

VPD homicide detectives are appealing for witnesses to come forward, and are looking for dashcam footage from any drivers in the area of Comox and Thurlow streets.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call VPD detectives at 604-717-2500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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